Monday, August 17, 2009

Tonight's Movie: The First Hundred Years (1938)

In THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS David (Robert Montgomery) and Lynn (Virginia Bruce) have been happily married for five years, during which Lynn has been the chief breadwinner. David lands his dream job as the head of a boat building company, which will finally put him on a financial par with Lynn and even allow him to support her; however, the job requires a move out of state and Lynn refuses to give up her career as a New York theatrical agent. Can this marriage be saved?

I very much enjoyed this film, which has attractive leads and a storyline (by producer Norman Krasna) which was rather unique for the era; Leonard Maltin, in a three-star review, opines that the "chic comedy" was "ahead of its time." I've read some reviews which are disappointed in the ending, but it worked perfectly fine for me.

Montgomery and Bruce, who were effectively teamed the same year in YELLOW JACK, are appealing and -- sometimes simply in small gestures -- believably convey a longstanding intimacy between their characters. There's a lovely scene after the couple separate when David goes to comfort Lynn, who is terrified of thunderstorms. As he repeats reassuring words and counts down the distance of the storm, in what is obviously a familiar routine for both of them, he is overcome with emotion.

There's also a very romantic wordless scene when the two leads simply stare at each other as a friend is beating an Indian drum. I thought the way the scene conveyed the characters' longing for each other was very creative in its simplicity.

The fine supporting cast includes Warren William, Harry Davenport, Binnie Barnes, Alan Dinehart, Nydia Westman, Lee Bowman, and Jonathan Hale.

THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS was directed by Richard Thorpe. It was shot in black and white and runs 73 minutes.

This movie has not had a DVD or VHS release. It can be seen on TCM, which has the trailer available here.

A note on trailers: I've noticed that trailers -- MGM's in particular -- often include alternate takes and scenes which didn't make the final cut. The trailer for last night's movie, I'LL WAIT FOR YOU, shows parts of two different scenes as "two shots," when the scenes in the final film use individual closeups. The trailer for THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS contains at least two brief scenes which aren't in the movie. It's always intriguing to glimpse what's missing or look at a scene from another angle.

April 2016 Update: THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive. My review of the DVD may be found here.


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